Ning Alternative Speed Dating (Round 2)


I’m already having a hard time keeping all the different sites straight, but the blog is helping. I’ve also decided that I’m only going to look at hosted options since non-hosted options might be a difficult concept for some teachers who are new to technology and I want to encourage rather than discourage (hence, I won’t be talking about Buddypress). So with no further ado, let’s meet our next bachelors:

Bachelor #3:

First of all, this is what my home page for my site on looks like:


I was actually able to import my template along with all my information from one of my previous Nings. I haven’t imported the information though because it would send an email to all the members and I didn’t want to confuse all of last semester’s students. Still, I’m pleased to see how much this looks like my Ning. And the ad is pretty small. I don’t think it would be a big deal to just say to students “this is where the ads are. Don’t click them.” It’s not like they’re not used to seeing ads online. *see comment from about this.

The little bar at the top with Zeus or Thor is a bit odd, but maybe I’m just being picky.

I feel like this site is the most Ning-like of the other ones I’ve looked at so far. It also has chat feature (nixed in Ning’s mini version). There are a lot of ads when you’re in “administration” mode but the ads seem to be pretty minimal in online mode.

Look: *****Since I can import my Ning template. This one wins!

Ease of set-up and use: **** Pretty easy. All your controls are up at the top with Zeus. Takes a bit of playing with, but so did Ning when I first started to use it.

Member Profile Pages: **** Doesn’t look like they can change the themes for their pages but other than that, they look pretty good.

Blogability: ****? I think individual users can maintain separate blogs.

Features and apps: ***** Lots. What more can I say.

Ads: **** Not bad. See earlier comments.

School Appropriateness: **** Seems pretty good. Lots of customizable privacy features.

Ning Migration: Yes.

Overall: The front runner. This guy may be getting the rose.

Bachelor #4: SocialGo

Look: *** Some nice looking templates to choose from, but not particularly slick. I think the premium versions have more templates and layout customization, but I’m evaluating the free version.

Ease of set-up and use: **** Pretty easy. There seems to be a lot of jumping back and forth to different pages in order to set stuff up though.

Member Profile Pages: *** Lots of different boxes on the profiles but you can’t change the background and I don’t think you can get rid of or customize all the boxes without a premium membership.

Blogability: ****? I think individual users can maintain separate blogs.

Features and apps: ***** Chat, video, music, groups, blogs, photos. Plenty. But I don’t like that I can’t get rid of the boxes I don’t want.

Ads: ***** I don’t see any other than advertising for SocialGo.

School Appropriateness: **** It does not allow adult content and you can’t create an account unless you’re 18 or older, and you must be 13 or older to be a member of a group. It also has pretty comprehensive rules about misuse of the site. It appears that students just need an access code to sign up which may be a bonus.

Ning Migration: No.

Overall: I’m trying to figure out how they make money. It doesn’t seem like there’s any advertising on the site I set up other than advertising for SocialGo itself. Customization levels go up when you pay. They also have a “concierge service” to help you set up your site. Maybe that’s where the $ comes from.  I think it’s a solid option, but I don’t think I’m going to go with it because it doesn’t feel as good as or Just a gut reaction I guess.

Breaking News!

After re-reading Alec Couros’ google doc on Ning alternatives I noticed that Grouply has premium accounts available for educators! That means no ads! I sent an email to them about the creepy friend request I encountered while experimenting, so I’ll keep you posted. I’ve also been rethinking the lack of individual blogs and it’s not really a big deal. I just need to be more flexible. Students can all post to the common blog and I could get them to use categories to help me sort through the posts (use their name as the category.)

More Breaking News!

Just got a very quick response from Grouply. My site has been given the educator status and re “friending”. Rich Reimer from Grouply says

People can search for other people, but they would need to know the
exact name. But the kids can make it so they are excluded from
searches. We have a lot of privacy settings that should serve your

Well, colour me impressed. Going to do a bit more digging, but this is promising.

Gosh, what will I do? This is like having to choose between Chris and Roberto… (did I get my Bachelorette reference right?)

I don’t think I’ll be blogging about any other alternatives because I’m pretty sure between the four I’ve discussed, I’ll be able to find one that works. However, if you want some more suggestions remember to check out Alec Couros’ google doc.

2 thoughts on “Ning Alternative Speed Dating (Round 2)

  1. Hi Danika,

    Greetings from GROU.PS – I appreciate your interest in our platform, and thanks for calling us the front runner.

    The Zeus thing is just for admins; it represents creation and community; in the future Zeus will be helping you with some tips on how to grow your community.

    Yes we don’t allow profile customization – the idea is this may cause distraction. But many Ning migrators have asked that and we consider adding this feature. So stay tuned on that one!

    Let me give you some good news; we haven’t officially announced this yet but we’ll start a new program for education community: we will keep the ads (I’d recommend you not to trust whoever says they won’t, someone needs to pay the bills) but we’ll make them text-only. Currently regular GROU.PS networks view Flash ads, we’ll make those ads less obtrusive for education communities within a week.

    Hope this helps, and I’m glad to hear you liked our services. Best,

    Emre Sokullu
    Chief Grou.pie

  2. That sounds great Emre! Thanks for reading and adding your thoughts to my post. The ads aren’t too bad and I know why they need to be there but making them text only is a great idea.